The generosity of writers

Sunday Blog 7 – 10th October 2021

If I remember correctly, I saw Michael Robotham speak at the Margaret River Writers’ Festival a few years ago – or perhaps the Perth Writer’s Festival. My memory is notoriously unreliable. For me, there’s nothing I like more than a Writers’ Festival where you can buy all sorts of books you may never get to read with a conscience as clear as rainwater. Because, supporting the arts, right? Plus once you have heard someone speak live, it would be churlish not to buy their novel. Then, you might get a chance to have a chat with the author as they scrawl your name and move to the next keen reader.

Michael Robotham seemed like such a personable man and spoke at some length of that moment in 2002 when his manuscript of his first novel The Suspect set off a bidding war, and how the resulting contract changed his life. He was also very candid about how he hadn’t fully looked at the fine print of this life-changing contract, which asked him to produce books in the same genre as The Suspect. His Great Australian Novel – a literary fiction unfinished potential masterpiece – has had to continue languishing in his bottom drawer. He was very self-deprecating about His Great Australian Novel but it got me thinking.

I am still a very long way away from any kind of publishing contract, with or without a bidding war. But when I find myself in the position of signing a publishing contract, I will be very careful not to sign away my creative licence to try – and possibly fail – at a number of different genres.

I happened to find Michael at the signing desk during a lull when he had enough time for me to very quickly outline my current situation of working almost full time and squeezing in writing on the weekends. He picked up his pen and with a flourish exhorted me to keep finding time to write. It just seemed so kind.

This is just one of the many instances I encounter in the writer’s world – just how generous and encouraging writers are to writers.

I keep this on my desk. I keep finding time to write.

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